One of the benefits of multiple reviewers is that we can read the same books and give our different takes. Adam’s previous review of Unbroken is here.
Louie Zamperini has an incredible story. It’s amazing what one person can experience in a lifetime. His story made me really think about what I would do if I had to go through what he did.
While I don’t think Hillenbrand intended to make any political statements with the book, I couldn’t help but think about Louie’s story of torture and the current debate in our country on gathering intelligence on prisoners of war. Hillenbrand gives you a little bit of history on Japan during World War II.
Hitler and the European theater usually dominate the focus of World War II history and for good reason. But I must admit that I honestly had no idea the Japanese were so terrible to the Chinese people (e.g. the Rape of Nanking) and to Allied POWs. A lot of their torture techniques were inhumane and barbaric. The US, which rounded up Japanese Americans and put them in internment camps, weren’t saints during WWII, but the US and its allies generally treated Japanese POWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention. The US did the right thing in spite of the fact that its enemies would not do the same. I think there is something to learn from that.
I first heard about this book when Mr. Zamperini came to my church and read his letter to Wanatabe. The message is here, and his reading with an introduction starts around 26:30. It’s worth checking out once you finish the book.
Hillenbrand does a great job giving you just enough detail without slowing down the flow of the book. It’s a lengthy book, but it feels like the pages fly by, mainly because his story is so fascinating. My only quibble was with the end of the book. After the amazing story of Zamperini’s crash, capture, and rescue, I felt the book was a little too hurried at the end. One of the most incredible parts of his life is when he returns to Japan, yet that part of the book was only a couple of pages. Still, the story is really great and one nearly everyone will enjoy reading.